Last weekend, Uma Thurman spoke out about Harvey Weinstein and his history of abuse — but she also criticized Quentin Tarentino. Thurman had been seriously injured in a car crash while making Kill Bill, thanks to Tarentino, and she also disclosed how Tarentino stood in to the movie to perform some degrading acts personally, spitting on and choking her. There were no accusations of sexual harassment against him, instead he just comes across as insensitive and crude (which one might guess from his movies, anyway). So now gives his side of the story, and proves that he’s insensitive and crude. Why is it these guys are always so painfully unaware of how awful they make themselves look?
The interview starts off poorly, with the reporter making this condescending remark.
I offered Tarantino the opportunity to clarify because at this moment, stories get written and then picked up across the globe, often getting twisted to suit convenient narratives in this #MeToo moment.
What “convenient narratives” are those? What “twisting” is going on? Gosh, all those #MeToo accounts sure are imaginary.
But then, everything he says confirms everything in Thurman’s account — he just adds this bizarre happy twist to all the unpleasant facts. So Thurman was injured in a crash, and Tarentino was the happy hero who found the video footage of the wreck.
She asked, could I get her the footage? I had to find it, 15 years later. We had to go through storage facilities, pulling out boxes. Shannon McIntosh found it. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think we were going to be able to find it. It was clear and it showed the crash and the aftermath. I was very happy to get it to Uma.
Never mind that he was responsible for the incident — smile, everyone, he filmed it! He had an assistant search through storage facilities and found it! He was such a good guy to give her a movie of the scene he made her do that nearly killed her. If only he’d been able to explain all that to Maureen Dowd, then people wouldn’t be so mean to him.
Part of my job on the piece was to do an interview with Maureen Dowd, and back up Uma’s claims. And we never hooked up. Me and Dowd never hooked up. I read the article and basically it seemed like all the other guys lawyered up, so they weren’t even allowed to be named. And, through mostly Maureen Dowd’s prose, I ended up taking the hit and taking the heat.
And then there’s the incident. It’s clear that Thurman didn’t want to do the scene, she had objected multiple times, she wasn’t much of a driver, but hey, Tarentino checked out the road. It was going to be easy. This is a classic example of someone not listening to another person’s concerns and simply sailing right past them.
…I heard her trepidation. And despite that we had set up everything in this shot, I listened to it. What I did was, I drove down this road, this one lane little strip of road with foliage on either side, in Mexico. I drove down it, hoping against hope that it would be easy and safe enough for Uma to drive. So we’re going down the road and I’m looking at it, watching it and I thought, this is going to be okay. This is a straight shot. There are no weird dips, there were no gully kinds of things, no hidden S-curves. Nothing like that. It was just a straight shot.
Uma had a license. I knew she was a shaky driver, but she had a license. When I was all finished [driving], I was very happy, thinking, she can totally do this, it won’t be a problem. I go to Uma’s trailer. Her makeup person, Ilona Herman was there. Far from me being mad, livid and angry, I was all…smiley. I said, Oh, Uma, it’s just fine. You can totally do this. It’s just a straight line, that’s all it is. You get in the car at [point] number one, and drive to number two and you’re all good.
How can anyone possibly think Tarentino wasn’t listening? He was very happy! He was smiley! Therefore, her worries were nonexistent.
I came in there all happy telling her she could totally do it, it was a straight line, you will have no problem. Uma’s response was…”Okay.” Because she believed me. Because she trusted me. I told her it would be okay. I told her the road was a straight line. I told her it would be safe. And it wasn’t. I was wrong. I didn’t force her into the car. She got into it because she trusted me. And she believed me.
By this point, I was more than a little disgusted with how often Tarentino was telling us that he was fucking happy, as if it didn’t matter what her feelings were. Time to blame the reporter!
The thing about it is, the good things I did are in the Maureen Dowd article. However, they are de-emphasized to not make any impression.
Then there’s the tale about Tarentino deciding to stand in for Michael Madsen to spit in Thurman’s face. It was OK, because the scene required the spitting, and Tarentino didn’t trust Madsen to get it right, so he needed to step in and do it so they wouldn’t need as many takes. What a hero!
The shot was, Michael Madsen had snuff juice. And you see him spit out a stream of snuff juice. Cut to Uma’s face, on the ground and you see it hit her.
Naturally, I did it. Who else should do it? A grip? One, I didn’t trust Michael Madsen because, I don’t know where the spit’s going to go, if Michael Madsen does it. I talked to Uma and I said, look. I’ve got to kind of commit to doing this to you. We even had a thing there, we were going to try and do it with a plunger and some water. But if you add snuff juice to water, it didn’t look right. It didn’t look like spit, when it hit her when we tried that. It needed to be that mix of saliva and the brown juice. So I asked Uma. I said, I think I need to do it. I’ll only do it twice, at the most, three times. But I can’t have you laying here, getting spit on, again and again and again, because somebody else is messing it up by missing. It is hard to spit on people, as it turns out.
Now that get me wondering — where did Tarentino acquire this amazing skill at spitting in people’s faces that Madsen lacked? Has he practiced it often? If people frequently mess up when they try to spit on people (and how does he know that?), why does it have to be a perfect spit for his movie? I think he was getting a little too in to this opportunity, which he wrote, to do something degrading to a woman on screen.
What about the choking scene? Apparently, he’s also an expert in strangling women for verisimilitude, and features his strangler’s hands in a couple of movies.
I was the one on the other end of the chain and we kind of only did it for the close ups. And we pulled it off. Now, that was her idea. Consequently, I realize…that is a real thing. When I did Inglourious Basterds, and I went to Diane [Kruger], and I said, look, I’ve got to strangle you. If it’s just a guy with his hands on your neck, not putting any kind of pressure and you’re just doing this wiggling death rattle, it looks like a normal movie strangulation. It looks movie-ish. But you’re not going to get the blood vessels bulging, or the eyes filling it with tears, and you’re not going to get the sense of panic that happens when your air is cut off. What I would like to do, with your permission, is just…commit to choking you, with my hands, in a closeup.
There’s this thing called acting, but Tarentino wants real panic and fear in the women in his movies, and he’s willing to put it there personally.
It’s also the case that he is the one writing these movies, insisting on the random violence and viciousness. He doesn’t get to excuse it by pointing to the printing on the page and saying that the choking and the murder and the spitting are in the script, therefore he’s got to do it personally.
This is one of those interviews where you like the subject less and less as it proceeds, because he is so oblivious to what he’s saying and his excuses are all so self-serving. And then I thought of the brutal misogyny inflicted on Jennifer Jason Leigh in the last Tarentino movie I saw, and realized that was literally the last Tarentino movie I will ever see.